Coronavirus Outbreak Gives Rise to More Complex Forms of Remote Work

Workers in China are using remote platforms to hold meetings, follow health status of colleagues

A physician at Wuhan Tongji Hospital uses Infervision's product.

Photo: Infervision

2020欧洲杯APPThe coronavirus outbreak has spurred a rise in the use of virtual-meeting and work platforms that go beyond simple videoconferences, companies in China say.

2020欧洲杯APPAs the ability to travel and meet face-to-face is curtailed, people are using remote platforms to hold meetings, conduct training, and follow updates from co-workers, including their self-reported health status, according to interviews with workers in China.

The outbreak has demonstrated the “huge potential” of remote work, said Kuan Chen, founder and chief executive of Beijing-based medical AI company Infervision. Infervision’s AI is being used in imaging machines so that doctors can spot likely cases2020欧洲杯APP of the highly contagious virus almost immediately. That allows them to isolate people right away, instead of waiting days for more conventional tests, WSJ Pro has reported.

“We are meeting much less face-to-face. Online working is more complex and intricate. We are sharing, talking, coordinating team work,” Mr. Chen told WSJ Pro in a phone call. “One of my team members still can’t come out of Hubei province,” the epicenter of the outbreak, he said. Given the use of digital platforms, “I didn’t know she was there. I felt she was right beside me all of the time.”

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2020欧洲杯APPThe sudden adoption of remote work has led to higher degrees of efficiency, according to Mr. Chen. “We don’t need to worry about location,” he said. In some cases, productivity increases. There is also more e-commerce. Some members of older generations who didn’t use these platforms before are using food delivery and e-commerce platforms now, he said.

Beijing-based information service provider and investment research firm EqualOcean told WSJ Pro that remote work has intensified in many ways. The company also has offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen and New York, and communication is critical.

“Alibaba’s DingTalk was already widespread before the epidemic, and now it is of the utmost importance for online collaborating, meeting and HR management,” Yusuf Tuna, a Beijing-based analyst at EqualOcean, said in an email.

“Most of the finance and tech companies in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou have mitigated all of their offline meetings and business travels to the greatest extent possible, including my current firm.” Mr. Tuna said.

Work from Tencent Holdings Ltd. is widely used, as are video-collaboration platforms from Zoom Video Communications Inc. and Lark, a service from Bytedance Inc., according to Mr. Tuna.

“We’re particularly using the DingTalk online meeting tool, where you can gather tens of people in an online room and share your screen with others,” Mr. Tuna said.

EqualOcean is using DingTalk for its weekly meetings and internal training, he said. The company also uses a feature that allows users to follow “tens of different remotely working colleagues…during the epidemic.” He said the company also has started to use a DingTalk option to see all the employees’ self-proclaimed health status.

Of the 82,592 confirmed cases globally, 78,497 have been in mainland China, according to data available Thursday from Johns Hopkins University. There have been 2,810 deaths so far, according to .

It is possible that the emergency adoption of remote work could lead to long-term changes in behavior, according to Roberta Witty, an analyst at research and consulting firm Inc. who specializes in business continuity management.

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Write to Steven Rosenbush at steven.rosenbush@kinofilmz.com

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